Home again: The boomerang grads

Annie Kasinecz, 27, lives with her mother in Downers Grove, Illinois. She borrowed $75,000 to earn a degree in advertising and public relations at Loyola University in Chicago. Now working as a project coordinator, she’s lived at home rent-free for four years.  Credit Damon Casarez for The New York Times

The Boomerang Kids Won’t Leave home, predicts the New York Times Magazine. With college loans and low-paying jobs, they can’t afford to pay rent.

One in five people in their 20s and early 30s is currently living with his or her parents. And 60 percent of all young adults receive financial support from them. That’s a significant increase from a generation ago, when only one in 10 young adults moved back home and few received financial support.

. . . Those who graduated college as the housing market and financial system were imploding faced the highest debt burden of any graduating class in history. Nearly 45 percent of 25-year-olds, for instance, have outstanding loans, with an average debt above $20,000. . . . And more than half of recent college graduates are unemployed or underemployed, meaning they make substandard wages in jobs that don’t require a college degree.

The photographer, who lives at home and freelances, was graduated from an art college with $120,000 in debt. 

Alexandria Romo, 28, also a Loyola graduate, earned an economics degree but says she “had no idea what I was doing when I took out those loans” at the age of 18. She borrowed $90,000. Romo wishes she’d been taught about student loans, math and finance before borrowing at 12.5 percent interest. Romo lives at home in Austin and works at a security-guard company. Her dream is to be an environmentalist.

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  1. Student loans and trying to push everybody into college has turned out to be a huge disaster.

  2. Agreed. I read most of the comments on the original article and didn’t see one that mentioned the (entirely predictable) consequences of either the federal entrance into the student loan business or the push to get everyone into college. Back in the day, lenders made prudent decisions as to the likelihood of repayment by a student of X academic credentials and Y major. Colleges did not have remedial courses, didn’t admit those who obviously needed them and also had weeder courses (usually math, sciences and English comp/lit) designed to flunk the unable, unprepared and/or unmotivated kids out of the freshman class. Thus, the magical “college premium” in wages; kids who were admitted into and graduated from college were significantly different from those who weren’t and didn’t. It would be nice if the politicians and the ed world could separate correlation from causation. Sigh

    • PhillipMarlowe says:

      Back in 1982, when there was comparatively little federal money involvement, tuition at the Univesity of Maryland was $600 a semester.
      In 1948, Berkeley was $50 a semester, which included books and lodging.

  3. Well, college is only a plus (not to anyone who has graduated since 2007) if you degree in a field which is in high demand.

    A survey recently showed that of the top ten best paying jobs for college graduates (bachelors), 6 to 7 of the best paying ones were in STEM fields.

    Many students who graduated with a degree since 2007 (50%) are working in jobs which don’t even require a degree.

    Ms. Romo who is 90 grand in debt is working at a job she could have gotten directly out of high school, and I don’t know what demand environmentalist jobs has these days.


  4. “Alexandria Romo, 28, also a Loyola graduate, earned an economics degree but says she “had no idea what I was doing when I took out those loans” at the age of 18. She borrowed $90,000.”

    So Loyola offers an economics program with no mathematics–nay, no ARITHMETIC–prerequisities?

  5. Michael E. Lopez says:

    Yes, well, good for them. I’m happy that students these days actually have intact homes to go back to.

    A lot of people in my Generation (X) didn’t really have this option at all.

  6. Gee, I guess I was kind of ahead of the curve. I did this in the early 90s – 20 something living with parents while going to grad school. But I did it largely to AVOID taking out loans. (I had an on-campus job that paid my tuition and a small stipend, but not really enough to live on, not without having eight roommates and eating rice all the time).

    I felt embarrassed about it at the time. However, I knew what I wanted to do with my life and what I needed to do to get there. It sounds like some of these students haven’t really figured out what they need to do to get a job yet. Or maybe there just aren’t as many good jobs available as there were 15 years ago when I was in the job search. (FWIW, I am in a STEM field)

  7. Cranberry says:

    Interesting picture. Her first step should be to quit smoking. http://www.investopedia.com/financial-edge/0709/the-real-cost-of-smoking.aspx

    If you smell of cigarette smoke, you’re less likely to be hired. If you smoke, you may not notice the smell–but office coworkers who don’t smoke do.

    • Genevieve says:

      Many employers will not hire you if you smoke. I know of several hospitals and a health insurance company that require new hires to be nonsmokers.

  8. Elizabeth says:

    In many cultures, kids don’t truly leave mom and dads house until marriage – even though they have completed higher ed and are working. This may be a very positive development for families.